How Food Production is Changing in Canada

Diversifying Food Production

Crop diversification has been influenced by the changing face of the Canadian population. A diverse ethnic population is changing the Canadian palate and increasing the demand for non-traditional food items. For example, Canada’s growing Asian population has led to an increase in consumption of seafood, fruits, seeds and nuts.103

The changing population has also affected the types of crops grown in Canada. Thirty years ago, Saskatchewan did not produce pulses, but it is now the world’s largest green lentil exporter.104 Pulses are a good low-fat and high-fibre source of energy and protein, and include legumes such as chickpeas, dried peas, lentils and edible beans.105

Research is also being carried out to identify crops from other areas of the world which may be suitable to grow here in Canada. Scientists at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre are currently exploring options with the World Crops project. To date they have tested 800 varieties of vegetables in the program, including eggplant, okra, Indian red carrot and yard long bean.106 Consumers prefer to have fresh, local options of these vegetables instead of imported varieties which may have been picked weeks before reaching store shelves.107 This desire for local “world crops” represents tremendous potential for growers across Canada. For example, in 2012, the Canadian market for Okra was 2.5 million pounds (approximately $50 million).108

Career Connection

Finding new crops which can be grown in Canada requires many people in different jobs such as:

  • Market researchers: people who assess the market demand for certain products
  • Field researchers: people who grow the new varieties of vegetables
  • Business plan developers: people who work with growers to develop plans to get the new crops to consumers

The field of renewable energy is growing as the world looks for reliable alternatives to oil. Canola biodiesel is one type of renewable energy. Jobs in this field may include engineers who design equipment, technicians who install or fix equipment, lab workers, and more.